Prudence to Achieve Doctoral Success: An Interview with UOPX Alum Dr. Zane Tomlinson

Prudence to Achieve Doctoral Success: An Interview with UOPX Alum Dr. Zane Tomlinson

Prudence to Achieve Doctoral Success:  An Interview with UOPX Alum Dr. Zane Tomlinson

By LauraAnn Migliore, Ph.D.

This fifth article in the blog series, “The Importance of Prudence to Think Wise and Lead Well” for doctoral success emphasizes the practical application of completing the dissertation. I had the pleasure of interviewing Dr. Zane Tomlinson, who successfully defended his dissertation (in August 2018), ‘A Correlational Study of Market Orientation and Small Business Performance: The Mediating Role of Innovativeness.”


I had asked Dr. Tomlinson questions about the practical things he did to progress forward in the Doctor of Business Administration (DBA). Zane shared insightful techniques and resources he used to help him stay focused and on track. His perspective and the habits he cultivated during the doctoral journey demonstrate a prudent approach to leading self and making good choices. What follows are my interview questions and his responses:

Interview Questions:

1.  Did you set specific doctoral goals that were measurable? 
“At first, I did not set goals.  My focus was simply to complete 3 – 4 classes per year. If my work schedule was too heavy, I would skip taking a class. However, as I progressed forward in the Doctor of Business Administration (DBA) program, I used the Completion Plan, a standard learning activity, in the dissertation classes, which helped me focus on setting specific goals like course completion, residency milestones, and other doctoral-related activities:”

  • Program Completion Deadline:  October 27, 2018
  • QRM Approval: April 18, 2017
  • IRB Approval: July 21, 2017
  • DOC734:  Completed April 23, 2018
  • DOC734A:  May 22, 2018 – July 16,2018
  • Committee Dissertation Approval.  QRF Submission: June 11, 2018
  • QRF Approval:  July 20, 2018
  • Take Next Course to schedule Oral Defense starting July 31, 2018
  • Oral Defense (OD) Approval: August 3, 2018
  • Complete any OD final edits / submit manuscript to editorial manager
    Aug 10, 2018

“Later in the DBA program, I used the Completion Plan to incentivize my desired accomplishments, especially during the dissertation phase.”

2. What do you say was the primary need or desire for achieving each of your doctoral goals?

“For me it was pride of accomplishment. I am a goal-driven person and learned that trait early in life through Indian Guides, Boy Scouts, and recognition received from family on my successes.  Also, I was preparing for my future to enhance my career or possibly change career. I have a passion for learning, and it was important to me to achieve the doctoral challenge and not disappoint my support group (family and friends). Failure was not an option and fear of not finishing motivated me to complete the doctoral journey.”

3. What resources did you seek to either acquire or retain in your efforts to achieve your doctoral goals?

“Social-learning support like faculty, who offered insight and guidance, especially at the residencies. Also, mentors, which included former teachers and others who achieved doctoral-level academia.  Advocacy from my personal support group, and peers, who were working through similar challenges provided meaningful social-learning support. The University of Phoenix provided many doctoral resources, which I used in the writing of my dissertation. One resource I found very useful was the Dissertation Readiness Self-Assessment, which focused on assessing my preparedness and skill strengths.  I used this resource to gauge my progress and plan my timetable for achieving doctoral goals.”

4. Were there any resources you already possessed but focused on developing or strengthening for purposes of achieving your doctoral goals?
“Yes. I felt I had good analytical skills and strong aptitude to academic studies.  For example, I previously earned four Masters’ degrees. However, I felt I needed to focus on strengthening my higher-order thinking skills to synthesize literature content and argumentation. Also, I wanted to strengthen my library skills for finding pertinent information and work independently in my research.”

5. What do you say are your core values that influenced your doctoral success?

“Staying true to myself. I am self-driven and disciplined. I have entrepreneurial spirit and I like to problem solve, apply critical thinking, and keep a positive attitude.”   

“Honesty. I was intentional about being honest with myself to know when to ask for help. Because I like to work independently and figure things out on my own, there were times in the doctoral journey where I needed guidance and input from others.”

“Be open to ideas. I understand the importance of being open minded to other peoples’ perspectives.  I believe it’s important to treat others with respect and respect the opinions of others. Ideas others share can be steppingstones to other approaches that advance progress. My wife shared ideas with me that helped me with time management.  Faculty and Committee Members shared feedback that I could integrate into the dissertation.”  

6. How did you reduce risks during your journey so that you could achieve your doctoral goals?

“I stayed informed, so I was knowledgeable about what was expected of me for writing a successful dissertation. I took research elective classes (e.g. Correlational Methods and Analysis). I used SAGE Online Research Methods resources (e.g. Little Green books, statistical analysis, etc.)  Also, I kept in close coordination with my Chair and mentors. I developed a weekly routine and managed my time to achieve set milestone goals.”

“Hindsight is 20/20. Looking back, I had some time gaps and could have been more efficient by aligning my quantitative research classes (RES710 and RES720) early on with my dissertation. I could have asked for more help earlier to overcome hurdles in the process. I would have liked more guidance on how to be best prepare for residencies, get through Quality Review Management (QRM/) / Quality Review Final (QRF) and be more efficient.  Relying on Academic Advisors was useful at times, however more follow-up was needed if questions were not fully answered.”

7. Have any of your beliefs changed as a result of your doctoral journey?  If so, please share.
“My beliefs about scholarly work have changed.  Before, I believed scholarly to be creative and innovative, like an entrepreneur. However, scholarly is about following a process-based scientific approach that can lead to something new (e.g. synthesis). Prior to the doctoral journey, I had limited understanding of what it means to conduct a thorough literature review and now I understand the importance of building upon existing research, which can lead to critical evaluation of relevant works in relation to the research problem being investigated.”

8. Is there anything else you would like to share about your doctoral journey, post-doctoral plans, or your next research project, etc.?
“My personal situation was favorable in that my employer funded my education. I experienced significant learning moments at residency and through the Quality Review Methods (QRM), Institutional Review Board (IRB), and Quality Review Final (QRF) processes for achieving approvals. These milestones strengthened my scholarly skills, but were also some of the most discouraging moments in the doctoral journey – having to retake dissertation classes, revise and resubmit the dissertation, etc.  In addition, workplace demands, and balancing work, life, and school were all very challenging.”

Kudos to Dr. Zane Tomlinson!  I appreciate the sharing of his doctoral experience with our Research Hub audience!  Being self-led, managing time and resources, and persisting to completion, as shared by Dr. Tomlinson is a prudent way to achieve doctoral success.

Dr. Zane Tomlinson can be contact at:

Dr. Tomlinson is a marketing leader for a major Aerospace and Defense organization.  His diverse background encompasses management, engineering, and business development.  Current responsibilities include market planning, customer engagement, strategic development, and capture to identify and cultivate growth across various market segments. His research interests specialize in key challenges facing today’s organizational leaders.  First, providing market leadership to orient business capabilities to customers.  Second, developing strategies that are conducive to organizational growth.  Third, enhancing customer value through innovation.Dr. Tomlinson holds a Doctor of Business Administration (University of Phoenix, 2018), Baccalaureate degrees in Business and Engineering and Master’s degrees in Business, Computer Information Systems, Software Engineering, and Systems Engineering. 

While earning four master’s degrees is not common, in the case of Dr. Tomlinson, his analytical knowledge helped him see his way through the completion of the doctorate. The timeline and resources Dr. Tomlinson used became his “prudent” regimen to stay focused throughout his five-year journey.

Stay tuned for my next blog article,Prudence to Achieve Doctoral Success: An Interview with UOPX Alum Dr. Rheanna Reed.

Media Gallery Picture Below: Dr. Zane Tomlinson



Ryan Rominger's picture Ryan Rominger | August 2, 2019 2:42 pm MST

LauraAnn and Zane

Great interview, and congratulations to now Dr. Zane Tomlinson! Zane, I appreciated your comments regarding creating a timeline, your personal attributes which helped you succeed, and those supports you found along the way. I believe other grad students would do well to pay attention to what you mention, as this helps move doctoral students toward completion! Well done.

Ryan Rominger

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